June 5, 2017 (Monday)

by Yule Heibel on June 4, 2018

This morning I asked W., Wann sind wir eigentlich das letzte Mal mit ‘einem Lied auf den Lippen’ aufgestanden? I had just come into the kitchen and was loading the sheets I’d stripped off our bed minutes earlier. He was standing there looking a little shell-shocked from getting up too early on this rainy, blustery (and cold!) Monday morning, ready to rush out the door. Then I answered my own question, “Maybe yesterday, actually. Yes, yesterday: I enjoyed sleeping in till a reasonable hour, feeling rested. And the sun was out, nice day, but not hot and awful.”

Typically here it’s the dual scourge of a) terrible weather and b) a torture rack of a work schedule that forces everyone to become a morning person, whether it’s their natural inclination or not. I seriously think this will kill you over time. Well, okay, everything kills you over time, but this speeds up the process.

During meditation today I was struck by Andy’s description, which I’ve heard well over 600 times now, of the rising breath and the falling breath. I’m still hankering to write Headspace an email, asking about creating a pack on “desire,” on wants, on goal-setting, on or for people struggling with getting in touch with desire. It sounds counter-intuitive to meditation, but I think it’s BS to pretend that desirelessness is some kind of healthy state or something one wants to attain. And now back to rising and falling breaths: there’s something slightly evaluative in the words “rising” and “falling.” Humans naturally associate rising with strength and with new beginnings: rise up, sunrise, etc. It’s evolutionarily hardwired. Same with “falling”: weakening, waning, dying. End of day sunset, end of life fall in battle or just inability to rise.

The breath is life, though, so is life a balance between rise and fall? And if that’s true – and here’s my question – what does it mean that the asthmatic can’t have falls and only has rises, which in turn also cease because if you can’t exhale (“fall”), you eventually can no longer inhale? The asthmatic condition, which I experienced from about 12 onward through my teenage years, is truly horrible. Sure, you can inhale – albeit smaller and smaller amounts – but you can’t get air out. All rise and almost zero fall.

It might be purely physical, but asthma has such a symbolic component. I’m also aware of the ironic significance that the quack doctor we had in Victoria prescribed Valium for me. Yes, I was a teenage Valium user: calm down about rising (struggling to get out, get away) and let yourself fall. Don’t suck up too much oxygen, instead acquiesce. I’ve mentioned that in the last few months I’ve frequently thought about how I don’t want to die here. This is not where I want to fall, where my final exhale should occur, where my final inhale, prior to exhaling, imbues maximum rise.

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